Today’s businesses operate in a highly regulated and stringent environment. As a result, they must focus not only on financial performance but also on other aspects that support their long-term business strategy. And, if you want to develop a long-term business strategy, you will require sustainable reporting.
What is Sustainable Reporting?
Sustainable reporting, also known as sustainability reporting, is a broad concept that covers multiple parameters like environmental, social, and governance (ESG) of business performance. This form of reporting relies on trust and transparency.
Unlike a business’s financial performance, which has a relatively narrow scope, sustainability reporting covers a business’s impact on various environmental resources. It vets the measures companies take to curb their carbon footprint and improve social engagement with their workforce. In addition, the reporting also sets standards concerning a company’s governance aspect and its performance around it.
Why is Sustainability Reporting Critical in Corporates?
ESG sustainability reporting isn’t merely essential but critical for corporations. Here are a few factors that emphasize the importance of corporate sustainability reporting:
- Enhance operational efficiency: Analyzing business impact on sustainability allows companies to better plan human and material resources to improve operational efficiencies in the long run.
- Make better and more informed decisions: Sustainability reporting enables companies to assess their ESG aspects. With these insights, companies can make more informed and better decisions.
- Optimize costs and maximize savings: With a comprehensive analysis of the business and its impact areas, a sustainable report enables companies to broaden their scope of information and identify areas that require more effort and funds. You can optimize costs when you know where to invest and how much.
Challenges of Sustainability Reporting
Sustainable reporting indeed benefits companies from the long-term strategic perspective. But it involves potential challenges requiring companies to plan their reporting endeavors properly. Here are some sustainable reporting challenges:
- Disparate data sources
Companies often have to gather data from multiple and disparate sources. While guzzling up time, collating all the data could prove arduous. Let alone make sense of it, which is another significant challenge.
- Massive and low-quality data
A massive quantity of data can make it difficult for a company to identify relevant data. You cannot pick anything and everything. In addition, dealing with low-quality and irrelevant data further adds to the company’s challenges.
- Reaping practical value from the reporting
Sustainable reporting isn’t merely a formality. It is a step towards building a long-term business strategy. Companies can create practically useful and sustainable reports only when they adopt the latter approach. Considering it a formality will only lead to wasting time, resources, and effort for nothing!
Benefits of Sustainability Reporting
While the most straightforward advantages include better risk management, cost and savings optimization, and improved corporate confidence, here’s a look at some of the other benefits of sustainability reporting:
- Streamlining organizational performance
Sustainability reporting enables companies to streamline their performance and enhance stakeholder value. The better a company’s sustainability performance, the higher the value it creates.
- Attracting more clients
These days, many stakeholders and investors have ESG sustainability reporting as a significant criterion. They assess the company’s credibility via these factors.
- Achieving sustainability
Sustainability reporting makes sustainability a priority rather than an afterthought. Companies emerge as more committed and accountable once they release their report.
Standards to Follow While Designing a Sustainability Report
Sustainable reporting involves a company providing structured information about its performance regularly.
But sustainability reporting has specific credible sustainability reporting frameworks and standards. They include:
- CDSB – Climate Disclosure Standards Board
- GRI – Global Reporting Initiative
- TCFD – Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosures
- CDP – Carbon Disclosure Project
- WEF IBC – World Economic Forum International Business Council
- SASB – Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
- IIRC – International Integrated Reporting Council
Each standard has various topic scopes, including both narrow and broad ones. They cater to diverse audiences, from restricted stakeholder sets to more significant groups, including employees, clients, and society.
Reasons to Embed Sustainable Reporting into Business Strategies
Companies have many reasons to do it. But nothing helps if something doesn’t inch you towards sustainability. Amid a highly uncertain environment, embedding ESG best practices in sustainability reporting enables companies to know, control and better respond to the external and internal environment.
The most recent example is the pandemic that led to several temporary and permanent closures. Companies that solely focused on sales, customers, and money became more vulnerable to the highly fragile external environment. But those who included ESG in their ecosystem remained more stable and sailed through the storm safely.
Measuring the Impact of Sustainability Reporting
In order to assess the effectiveness of this kind of reporting and its impact on a company’s long-term business strategy, it is important for businesses to measure their progress. Measuring this can help assess how an organization is performing relative to environmental, social, and governance policies and expectations over time.
They are quantitative or qualitative indicators used to evaluate the performance of an organization against stated objectives within the scope of sustainability. These measurements can be used to monitor the performance of organizational initiatives related to energy efficiency, resource efficiency, water use, waste management, ethical behavior, diversity and inclusion practices, safety performance and customer experience. By gathering reliable data through ongoing monitoring and evaluation initiatives such as surveys or focus groups, businesses can track their progress on implementing new initiatives or policies associated with sustainability reporting. This data can provide valuable insight that can be used to inform future strategies that might help further maximize sustainability efforts in line with the organization’s desired outcomes.
By conducting regular assessments through measuring the impact of sustainability reporting on a company’s long-term business strategy, organizations will have an understanding of their successes as well as any missed opportunities that may have hindered progress towards meeting key environmental and social objectives. This provides a platform for enhanced decision making that takes into account considerations for people’s wellbeing as well as economic value from embracing sustainable practices in operations; ultimately helping build successful long-term strategies for success within competitive markets.